Body Image in Pregnancy

I wanted to talk a little bit about pregnancy body image. I know it’s a topic that’s been covered ad nauseum, but I’m in it, so I’m gonna talk about it.

To be perfectly honest, I was really scared that pregnancy would cause me to gain a ton of weight and feel really bad about myself. I already tend toward the negative self-image side of things, and worried that gaining pregnancy weight would make that worse. We all know women who had a tough time with what happened to their bodies while carrying their babies. And really, there’s very little one can do about the body changes that come along with pregnancy. Some women experience terrible morning sickness or aversions and aren’t able to maintain the healthy diets they had pre-pregnancy Some women just gain more weight than others regardless of what they’re eating or how they’re moving their bodies. And pretty much ALL women gain weight during pregnancy.

Mercifully, I have felt really, really good thus far. I’ve been gaining weight on the “ideal” timeline, and have received nothing but generous, lovely comments about how healthy I look and how well I’m carrying. While compliments are great and all (I sure do love hearing that I’m “all baby”), what matters is how I FEEL. And I actually feel great. I still get a little anxious every time I step on the scale at my prenatal appointments, especially as the number inches ever closer to that 200 pound mark, but on the whole, I’m coping really well.

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I don’t feel “fat.” I don’t feel scared that I’ll never get back to pre-baby weight or pre-baby body. I don’t worry that I won’t be able to lift as much or run as fast as I did before. I truly believe that getting into the best shape of my life with running and CrossFit before getting pregnant has helped me have a healthy weight gain and healthy pregnancy. Sure, I haven’t been as active as I’d imagined I would be (thank you ligament pain and light-headedness), but I’ve done my best. I’ve been eating decently and drinking a ton of water and I just feel a sort of supreme confidence that my body is doing what it needs to do right now, and I can worry about the after AFTER.

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Rocket isn’t a fan of the belly cause there’s less lap room for him.

Perhaps this confidence is simply ignorance, but I’m trying to take it for what it is right now. I have no idea what the postpartum period will hold in terms of body image, but I’m doing my best to place ZERO expectations on myself to “bounce back” on any particular timeline. Above all, I want the initial weeks after our baby is born to be ones focused on bonding as a family and allowing my body to heal, rather than time spent stressing about when I can get back to the gym and whether or not I’ll ever fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Sure, I miss running and CrossFit, but I miss them because of how they make me feel, not because I’m anxious to lose weight, and I know they’ll always be there for me when I’m ready to come back.

Mamas out there, how did pregnancy make you feel about your body?

Real Talk

I have been hinting lately that my relationship with food and fueling my training hasn’t been so great. Hidden away in my drafts folder is a very negative blog post that just sort of throws up all of those feelings in a nice, stress-relieving, ranty sort of way. While I believe in being real and honest here on the blog, I don’t think anyone other than myself really needs to read what I wrote there. In the interest of being honest though, here’s what’s up, in a much less negative tone:

In short, I’m struggling with body image. As I’ve said many times before, my weight is not where it was three short years ago, and it’s not where I want it to be. Since the start of the 2015 holiday season, I’ve gained a bit more, and my clothes are starting to show it. I’m feeling way, way down on myself. As many first-time marathoners do, I had rosy visions that as I increased my mileage, the 15 or so pounds I’ve put on would magically melt away, and I would feel fit, strong, and healthy.

The reality that I, and many others training for their first marathon, must face, is that most people gain weight while in training, rather than losing it. Since I started officially training 7 weeks ago, I have fluctuated a bit, maybe gaining a pound or so, which, the grand scheme of things, isn’t THAT bad. The problem is, I’m hungry. All. The. Time. And I have this overwhelming anxiety that if I eat more, I will gain weight. So even though most days at around 3 pm I’m struck by insatiable hunger, I either a) don’t eat anything, or b) eat all the wrong things because I’m not prepared and don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

I’m well aware that my main issue is probably quality over quantity. I don’t think the amount of food I’m eating is necessarily too high (although who knows, it might be), but I know that the quality of the food that I’m eating sucks. Because Ben and I are so busy, convenience is paramount. 9 times out of 10, boiling some pasta and eating it with butter and salt is easier, more convenient, and often cheaper, than a healthier alternative. My ingrained eating habits of 30 years are also abysmal, so I’m more likely to crave carb-heavy and nutrient-poor foods than things like salads, and more likely to choose comfort over nutrition.

For a few weeks I’ve been sort of in denial about this. I knew I was having issues, but was determined to just “get over it” or try to muddle through on my own. I have been feeling really down on myself and my apparent lack of motivation/dedication/will power to just figure it out. I’ve had so much anxiety and frustration and it’s stupid and annoying to feel this way. It’s weird to feel such negativity about a body that’s doing everything I could ask of it. I mean, February was an amazing running month. How can I be angry with/dislike a body that carried me through 87 miles? I don’t know. But I am.

Yesterday, I finally decided that I need an objective opinion. I’ve tried so many times to figure this stuff out on my own, with very limited success. So, I bit the bullet. I emailed Coach Suz and told her I needed help. I’ll be keeping a food journal over the next week or so to get some hard, honest data about what I’m actually eating versus what I think I’m eating, then we’ll have a Skype date so that we can talk about it.

I’m hopeful that Susie can help me out. While it’s all well and good to want to lose weight, my ultimate goal in training for the marathon is to RUN THE FUCKING MARATHON. I need to eat enough to fuel my body. I hope that making some changes will help ease some of this anxiety and allow me to fuel my training without gaining any additional weight, and then once marathon training is done, I can begin to address the weight loss issue.

 

This is a Public Service Announcement

I had an *ahem* interesting interaction last night, and I mulled over it all night and all day, and talked it over with some friends.   I’ve decided to address it here in the hopes of improving interpersonal relations everywhere.  The following is a description of said interaction.

I am saying goodbye to clients at our annual Client Appreciation event, handing out gift bags and making small talk.

Me:  Thank you so much for coming, here’s a gift for you!

Client:  Oh thank you, and good luck with your… *gives me significant nod and smile*

Me:  *stares blankly*

Client:  You know… *gives another significant smile*

Me:  *stares blankly*

Client:  …when are you due?

Me:  *gapes open-mouthed while contemplating reply*  …oh, I’m not expecting… *nervous laughter*

Of course, the client was mortified, and apologized.  And then felt the need to feel my stomach and say, “Oh, of course you’re not pregnant!”

At the time, I just laughed it off.  I was tired and I’d had a cocktail and quite frankly I just wanted to go home.  I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because a) I was wearing one of those blousy, oversized shirts that vaguely resemble maternity wear, b) I carry all my excess weight around my middle, and c) my skin has been GREAT lately, so she may have mistaken it for that “pregnancy glow.”

However, the more I thought about it, the less OK with it I was.  Which prompted the creation of this post.

So here’s the promised Public Service Announcement:

UNLESS YOU ARE 1000% PERCENT SURE A WOMAN IS PREGNANT, NEVER, EVER COMMENT ON WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A PREGNANCY.  Also, NEVER TOUCH A STRANGER’S STOMACH AFTER MISTAKING HER FOR A PREGNANT WOMAN (or any other time, really).

Now let’s talk about why.

The first and most obvious reason you should never say something like “Congratulations on your bundle!” or “When are you due?” to a woman you are not absolutely certain is pregnant is because if the woman you are addressing is not, in fact, pregnant, she will assume you think she’s fat.  Luckily for my client, I’m not the type to bring about a direct confrontation.  However, there are women out there who could feel perfectly justified in punching you in the face for making such an error (I’m looking at you, Kellie).

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The second reason you should never comment on a possible pregnancy without being sure is a little less obvious, and definitely more sensitive.  What if the woman you are addressing is in the process of trying to conceive, but having fertility issues?  What if she’s had a recent miscarriage, or lost a baby?  Having someone congratulate a woman in that situation on a non-pregnancy would be devastating.  Maybe I’m overly touchy about this subject because I have a lot of friends with fertility issues, but this is stuff I think about.  And then of course, on top of this, she now thinks you think she’s fat (see above).

Lastly, it is NEVER OK to touch a stranger without his or her consent.  And this is coming from the mouth (fingers?) of one of the most touchy-feely people you’ll ever meet.  But seriously.  Different people have different personal space bubbles and different boundaries depending on the situation.  Having that woman grab my stomach, one of the areas of my body I’m most self-conscious about, after basically telling me I’m fat, made me feel… less than.  Less than what, I don’t know.  But it was like I was a brood mare and she was just grabbing me to check if I was ready to be mounted.  It felt icky.

I understand that most people want to share in the joy and excitement surrounding a pregnancy, but let the people who are pregnant share the news with you first, and then commence celebrating.  It will save everyone a lot of awkwardness and face punching.

Ladies, have you ever been mistaken for a preggo?  How did you handle it?

One Size Does NOT Fit All

I think it’s pretty commonly recognized that there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.”  And yet, the phenomenon persists.  There are one size fits all leggings, shirts, hats, socks, and various other articles of clothing.  And whether you are very thin, or tend toward the other side of the spectrum, you’ve likely been frustrated by the one size (doesn’t) fit all problem at one point or another in your life.  Companies have finally gotten wise and changed the party-line to “one size fits most,” but we all know it means the same thing–these probably won’t fit you.

Recently, I began a search for performance underwear.  We all know that cotton is the devil, and so I’ve never worn cotton underwear for running.  Unfortunately, however, running “commando” causes me a significant amount of personal chafing (yup, TMI again.  Seems to be a trend around here lately).  So, I looked around.  Oiselle has their “Randies,” at $16 a pop.  Googling “athletic underwear” led to lots and lots of results for men, but not as many for women.

And then, I found that Under Armour has a “pure stretch” line of performance, sweat-wicking underwear in 3 different styles and lots of cute colors.  And they’re 3 pairs for $30, which is actually a pretty good price.  And I have an Under Armour outlet near me, so they were easy for me to get right away rather than buying online and waiting for them to ship.  So on Friday, I bought three pairs.

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The problem?  One size fits most.  Or, as their marketing so glibly suggests, “One size fits all ATHLETES.”  Now, I consider myself an athlete.  I run three times a week, and usually hit the gym at least one other day a week.  I am definitely not overweight.  And yet, these underwear DO NOT FIT.  Sure, I can pull them up, and they fit over my thighs and butt.  But they cut into the fat around my hips and give me the world’s meanest muffin top.

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Legit almost this bad

These things are so tight that they actually roll down off of my hips, making the muffin top worse.  These underwear are completely useless to me, and therefore a waste of money.  Granted, I can return the two pair I didn’t actually wear, but still.

I can lay most of the blame at my own door–I should have known immediately that one size fits most would not apply to me.  I’ve fallen into that trap before.  But Under Armour has to take some of the rap.  What kind of company makes “one size fits most” underwear?  I think we all know that most people do not wear the same size anything, let alone underwear.  And since underwear occupies such an intimate space, shouldn’t it be the best-fitting, most comfortable article of clothing we put on each day?  Shouldn’t it actually come in a variety of sizes to allow optimum fit?

And this is not even touching on the impact that the marketing can have on individuals.  If I consider myself an athlete, but don’t fit into these underwear, am I then not truly an athlete?  Am I not thin enough?  Do I not have enough muscle?  It’s unfair to say that these are underwear for athletes if they don’t fit all shapes and sizes.  Peoples’ identities of themselves and their own qualifications of the “athlete” title can vary incredibly from person to person.  To try and pin that title to a single size of underwear is just plain wrong.

And then, of course, there’s the body image thing.  I think we all know what I’m getting at here, so I won’t beat a dead horse.  Suffice to say, if an article of clothing is branded “one size fits most,” and you don’t fit into that article of clothing, you are automatically alienated–you are outside of the realm that “most” people occupy.  You are different.  Too fat or too thin or whatever.  And that sucks.

Thankfully, my sense of self-worth does not hinge on fitting into Under Armour’s Pure Stretch underwear.  But some people are that sensitive.  So listen up, clothing manufacturers–One size fits “most” does not work.  And one size fits all is a lie.  Please make clothing that people of all shapes, sizes, and athletic abilities can wear and enjoy.  This especially goes for sports bras.

How do you feel about “one size fits all” or “one size fits most” clothing?

Any suggestions for comfortable, reasonably priced athletic underwear?

A Follow-Up to Yesterday’s Post

I know yesterday’s post is probably not what you’re used to seeing here on Darlin’ Rae, and I wanted to take a minute to address that instead of jumping manically from yesterday’s difficult topic to the app review post I had scheduled for today.

I try to keep it positive most of the time, because nobody wants to hang out with a Debbie Downer.  And it can be scary or uncomfortable to talk about things like body image, self-esteem, and eating disorders.  I’ve started and stopped posts similar to what I wrote yesterday countless times, but always held back because I almost feel that I don’t really have anything new or constructive to add.  Body image has been discussed so many times in so many different forums I feel like the reaction is “Yup, ok, we get it, move on, please.”  But it’s really important for me to be able to be real and honest here.  It’s easy in the internet world to pretend like everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time.  To present only the best parts of yourself to your readers.  But that’s not reality.  Everyone struggles sometimes, and I don’t want to ever pretend that I’m someone I’m not.

I feel like I’ve found an incredibly supportive community here, and I felt safe enough to share something that I usually keep locked up pretty tight.  Not every day is great.  Not every workout makes me feel good.  I (like most people, I imagine) have a hard time loving myself 100% of the time.  But I’d say that at least 98% of the time, I do.  And that’s why 98% of the posts here will be positive.  But sometimes, I just need to be sad, or angry, or frustrated.  And I hope you’re cool with that, because I expect the same from all of you.

I promise that tomorrow we’ll get back to the normal stuff.  I’ve got lots of fun stuff to talk about in my Friday Free For All, and I’m very excited about my plans for the holiday weekend.  I have an app review ready to go, and I’m putting together a brief review of the hydration belt I’m currently using as well.  I hope you have a lovely Thursday!

 

Calorie Counting Woes

You may recall that on Monday I mentioned going back to My Fitness Pal for a bit to try and get a handle on my eating.  Boy, has that been educational.  And frustrating.

It’s amazing how much you can trick yourself into thinking that you generally eat “well.”  You can ignore super-sized portions because it’s brown rice instead of white, or think that grilled cheese is a valid choice when paired with salad, or believe that eating dessert after every meal is acceptable.  And then you wonder why the weight on the scale is creeping up.  Why pants are a bit more snug.  Why you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

I had a wake-up call recently.  One of my favorite pairs of summer work pants no longer fits.  Granted, they were always a bit snug, but I could get them on, zip and button them, and wear them all day with no issues.  Now, I can’t even pull them up over my butt.  If it weren’t for the number on the scale, I could maybe believe that my butt is now just extra muscular because I’ve been running and working out so much.

But when your macros look like this:

So much fat.  So little protein.

So much fat. So little protein.

 

…It’s not hard to understand why these things are happening.  And when you only have 317 calories left in your daily allowance and it’s 3pm, it’s pretty plain that you’re not doing as well as you thought you were.  In fact, you’re doing pretty poorly.

Bad Diet

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I (foolishly) assumed that as I started running more, I would automatically lose weight.  Instead, I have used my extra calorie expenditure as an excuse to eat more and worse foods.  I just ran 8 miles, give me that pasta!  I deserve fro-yo, I went to the gym today!  I am proving to myself the truth of the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”

So now I feel the need to do a massive diet overhaul.  Make better choices.  Plan better.  Prepare better.  Actually, oh I don’t know, measure my servings instead of guessing.  More protein, more veggies, and less sugar.

Unfortunately, healthy eating doesn’t come naturally to me.  It’s not how I was raised.  Growing up, most of our meals consisted of meat and starch with a side of starch.  “Vegetable” was a four-letter word to my dad, and since he did all the cooking, I never tried or developed a taste for most vegetables–the only “vegetable” he ever made was corn.  As an adult, I have had to learn to prepare and like vegetables that are second-nature to most people.  Over time I’ve gotten better, but it’s still not my first instinct to order a side salad instead of fries, or prepare a vegetable with every meal.

I have started down this path so many times and only found frustration.  Undoing 28 years of eating habits is REALLY HARD.  Retraining your brain and your taste buds is REALLY HARD.  Right now, I’m approaching the heaviest I’ve ever been, and if I were truly being “healthy” and eating well, I honestly wouldn’t mind so much.  But I know that what I’m doing isn’t healthy, and with a family history like mine (type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, breast cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and on and on), I can’t keep doing what I’m doing and expect to live a long, healthy life.  Something’s got to give.

Logically, I know this doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  I know that making healthy choices more often than not will make a huge difference.  I know that small changes will add up.  But I have a hard time even committing myself that far.  Emotionally and irrationally, I’m afraid that I’ll “miss out on things” by adopting healthier eating habits.  No more muffins at the office?  No more maple creemees on a summer night?  Is that really worth it?  My little sister has an eating disorder, and I’m terrified of becoming like her.  I don’t want to be so consumed with fear of being overweight that I’m afraid of food.

I know, I know it’s possible to find balance, I just haven’t found it yet.  I need to keep struggling along and hope that as I keep trying, things keep falling into place.